The man stood and watched as the fighter jet performed its airshow tricks. Without ever leaving the perimeter of the show area it repeatedly pulled 8-9g, hosing fuel into its after-burners, full re-heat, in order to make it go around these notional corners in the air. "That's F1," thought the man. "F1 in the sky." All petrol and fury but going nowhere.
The man knew what he was talking about. After all, he was one of the pioneers of introducing downforce into the sport, intimately involved in ground effect and active ride, technologies that grinded the cars into the ground at previously unimaginable speeds.
Peter Wright, the man watching at the airshow, was in the governing body's motorhome at Silverstone, along with fellow FIA technical consultant Tony Purnell. Two high-powered brains in love with this sport. You might say they were singing from the same hymn sheet except you quickly realise they don't need to read a sheet - they are genuinely like-minded when it comes to all things F1.
Their vision for the sport's future has recently been presented as a series of documents outlining proposals for hybrid engines in active-aero cars. It would be fair to say the teams' response to these proposals has not been overwhelming.
Which the pair found disappointing in a good-natured sort of way, as though they'd been looking forward to having a good intellectual debate - and the others were just too busy getting on with the immediacy of F1 and leaving these two figures as little more than former participants looking on. But they are much more than that. They are shaping the sport's future and as such it was fascinating to get an insight into their thoughts, to see where they're coming from.
"The lack of response is not so surprising, I guess," chuckles Purnell. "In some ways it mirrors people's reaction to global warming. If you look at the facts of global warming a rational person should be in a state of near-panic. This morning I heard on the radio that 56 per cent of Britons a) don't believe it, and b) law and order, litter and personal safety are all much higher on their list of worries."
"The interesting thing is the level of denial," chips in Wright. "Psychologically it's a window into the human soul. How can you possibly deny it? Our children may be the last generation.
"Pretty soon - much sooner than most people think, I suspect - society will change and if the sport remains as it is it would become a liability for a manufacturer to be involved in F1. Buyers will actively be choosing against those manufacturers involved in F1 - precisely because they are in F1.
Because F1 is perceived as the opposite of what the environmental movement stands for. But if we can get F1 to lead the way on green technologies that when applied to road cars reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption in massive quantities, then the sport still has a chance. We need to change it so people will buy a car BECAUSE a manufacturer is involved in F1. That's what the manufacturers need us to deliver."
Not all the manufacturers realise this yet, it must be said. But that might just be because they are looking the wrong way, about to step in front of a thundering anti-racing juggernaut picking up momentum.
"One of the biggest offenders against F1 being energy-efficient," says Purnell, "is downforce. And he [points to Wright] is chief culprit number one, having helped invent it." Wright agrees but tries to shift some of the blame onto '60s aero pioneer Jim Hall of Chaparral fame. "In a fast corner there comes a point when you need a certain amount of power to push the car round the corner as fast as the downforce is encouraging it to go." Hence the fighter jet analogy.
"But with non-moveable aero, that just means you are using that power down the straights to push a load of parachutes through the air. Yes, F1 cars currently have around 750 horsepower but we've only been able to have that because the cars are so draggy. Otherwise there would have been a major safety problem."
So it is how they have arrived at a figure of around 400bhp for 2011, if active aero cars are restricted to something like current lap speeds and with straightline speeds similar to what we've got. And this is where it seems to get a little concerning. An F1 car still with reasonable downforce through the turns - albeit it much of it from the underbody - with just 400bhp will surely be far too easy to drive to be worthy of the ultimate form of motorsport. Wright tries to reassure.
"Emotionally 400bhp doesn't sound right," he agrees. "But I don't think it's going to make a massive difference in differentiation of drivers. Even in a car that doesn't have traction control, the amount of power you've got matters from the point you're on full throttle to the point where you put your foot on the brake. And that's the time that driver skill is almost zero. You can do a bit of racing during that period but otherwise there's not a lot to do.
"So to a certain extent it doesn't really matter. The problem comes in a fast corner. If you're on full throttle during that period that corner is then flat and doesn't really require skill. More corners will be flat - not that many, but a few more. But if you've got traction control it's all a bit academic because tc is currently used to make the cars stable in the fast corners anyway.
"With the cars we're talking about you're going to arrive at the end of the straight at about the same speed, the braking bit of the exercise is going to be very similar indeed and that's where the driver skill comes in. For me, the most significant driver aid of the last few years has been stabilising the car under braking by using the engine tickover characteristics to adjust the brake balance through the braking phase.
"From the point that technology was introduced drivers stopped losing control of the cars under braking. Prior to that almost all loss of control occurred under braking, usually when there was a gearchange. That goes next year with the standard ECUs."
But it probably comes back again when hybrid motors and their necessarily tailor-made electronics are introduced. These are interesting times, if a little unsettling. We're going to need brains like these to help.